Katha Chopais

Kala pai muni sunu soi raja | bhaeu nisachara sahit samaja ||
Dus sira tahi bees bhujadanda | Raavan naam bir baribanda ||
Listen, sage, in due time this king and all his household were born as demons.
He had ten heads and twenty arms; his name was Raavan, a formidable and valiant warrior

Katha Translations

In Bapu’s words, “Jai SiyaRam to all from this spiritual place. It is said that this kind of katha is only possible due to fruits of virtues (punya) of people; So I feel that it may include the virtues of many present or concealed ‘chetanas’, the purity of our samadhis (ancestors) and also the virtues of Shiv parivaar as He has invited us for listening Ramkatha. ”

“Rakshasa taal” (the name of the place) denotes a particular meaning. In the word ‘Rakshasa’, “rameans Ram, “sameans Sita and “kshameans a particular ray in the universe which enables a person to see Ram and Sita even in a demon.

The word ‘Taal’ signifies many things -a lake, a thigh of a person, a skull, rhythm of life. In the context of the place, the lake is the point where Raavan practiced penance; the meaning of thigh refers to Raavan’s valour; Raavan’s mind or skull was full of hidden knowledge and Raavan recited stotras for Bhagwaan Shankar in a rhythm.

Question: Why is Raavan called a ‘mahaatma’ (a virtuous person)?
Answer – A jeevaatma (an ordinary human being) is the one who is full of adverse intellect, but is not aware of the negativity, but mahaatma is the one who is not only aware but also ready to admit his negative attitude. Therefore, Ravaan proves to be a mahaatma.

There several ‘rekha’ (boundary lines or limits) mentioned in Shri Ramcharitamans. Raavan was extremely careful and took care that he never crossed them. Raavan took care of the limit drawn by Lakshman jee of Vairaagya (dispassion). He did not cross over the line of devotion drawn by Sita jee in Ashok vatika. Ram jee had drawn a boundary of Truth, he took care of that too. He did not offend Sadaguru’s limit (if Hanuman jee is seen as his sadaguru). Raavan followed his basic nature, which is a religion (dharma) for a person, so took care of that limit too. It can be said that this kind of lifestyle (like of Raavan) can be described as in tune with spiritual rhythm. A devotee can take inspiration from him in this way.

Bapu says, “there is a precise reason behind every ‘anushtthan’ (katha as a spiritual experience). The result will be evident only after many years. This place is chosen, as Kailas is the source of praan (life) and urja (energy).

In Siddhi (expertise), a list is made of acquired things, but in shudhhi (purity), the things given away are accounted for.

A truly spiritual person is ever willing for developing his inner-self. He can even ask a child that what traits does he need to change to make a better person.

A sadaguru (like Hanuman jee in the form of a monkey) may take a shishya from one branch of spirituality (devotion, yoga, knowledge etc.) to another, but a dedicated disciple should hold on to sadaguru in every situation.

It is seen in the world that some kind of ugliness passively lies in a beautiful object and at the same time there is a hidden beauty present in what seems ugly. Raavan’s positive qualities were concealed under his harsh exterior.

QuestionWhy didn’t Raavan do his saadhana at the banks of Manasarovar, which is nearer to Kailash. Why did he choose Rakshasa taal?

Answer – Saadhana is more successful if it is done from a certain distance. Proximity pushes a person to see the faults of others. The people who chose the path of renunciation were not emotionless but they were aware that a specific distance from the world is necessary in spirituality.

Raavan’s behaviour was not acceptable to everyone (for himself also it was a compulsion), but his thought definitely could not be rejected.

There are six areas of activity (pravritti) mentioned in Shri Ramcharit manas by Surpanakha,

Sevak sukh chah maan bhikhaari | Byasani dhan subh gati bibhichaari ||
Lobhi jasu chah chaar gumaani | Nabh duhi doodh chahat ai praani ||

1. Seva (service)- A person who serves others should not expect comfort for oneself.
2. Bheekh (asking for alms)- A person who asks for favour from others should not expect respect.
3. Dhan (earning money)- in the process of earning money, one tends to get drawn to vices. This process should not become such an addiction that it takes away the peace of a person.
4. Subh gati (welfare)- A person whose faith is focussed only in the feet of one supreme beloved can do the best welfare of own and others.
5. Jasu (activity to gain prestige)- Greed can motivate a person to indulge in self-pride activity.
6. Chaar (job)- a job should be done without ego.

In Uttar kand, Tulsidas jee (through Veda stuti) describes the three-fold path of devotion, which are the basic features of this course.

Biswaas kari sab aas parihari daas tav jey hoi rahey|

Firstly, a devotee should maintain a firm faith on the Lord. At the second stage, one should be free of all the expectations of favours from God, but at the same time, he/she has to be extremely careful that arrogance of reaching this stage does not surface in life. The third fold says that one should remain like a humble servant.

These three are indispensable parts of the path of devotion. Raavan possessed all the above three qualities- he was sure that he could not reach the almighty through conventional means, he never asked any favours from God and he was dedicated to Bhagwaan Shankar like a servant. In a sanyas field, the heads are known as ‘dandi swami’, but if one sees Raavan, he had 20 arms (bhuj-dand), so he was 20 times more than a sanyasi. Bapu says, “I would like to call him Swami Raavanaanand” as he mastered in all the three qualities.”

Sadaguru grants wings (pankh) to a disciple and not feet (pada). The former denotes God’s grace and the latter signifies materialism.

Hey hari…hey hari….hey hari…..

Kaag bhusundi jee calls Raavan an ‘avataar’. An avatar has 4 prominent features.

  1. naam-his name is raavan.
  2. roop- his outer form is unique with 10 heads and 20 arms etc.
  3. leela- he participated in the battle with Bhagwaan Ram like a play.
  4. dhaam- he lived in golden Lanka.

There are three types of people.

  • Vishayi- a materialistic person copies his role model’s physical look/actions (anukaran).
  • Saadhak- an aspirant tries to implement his role model’s ideals and values (anusaran).
  • Sidhh- a realized soul is blessed with special qualities by god’s grace (avataran).

An aspirant can experience some kind of comfort with his own efforts but actual peace can only be experienced with the grace of Sadaguru.

Every kind of worry emerges from the body, but immediately adopts the mind as its shelter.

In shrimad Bhagwat, Bhagwaan Kapil describes three methods to become ‘udaaseen’ (unperturbed by worldly happenings).

  1. Gyaan- One should have the Knowledge of what one wants.
  2. Vairaagya- One should know exactly what has to be given up.
  3. Bhakti- one should worship a supreme deity of own choice.

These three are like strings of an instrument that can fill one’s life with music of bliss.

There are four points from where, ‘raavanatva’ (inclinations)

  1. From a Demon or a shoodra -as Raavan was born due to curse of Jalandhar’s wife, who was a demon himself. The negative traits of a devious character are seen in him.
  2. From a Brahman- Raavan was born as a reincarnation of Bhagwaan Shankar’s gana. One should be careful about not encouraging the inclination of making fun of others, in spite of being knowledgeable.
  3. From a Kshatriya- Raavan was born as reincarnation of Pratap bhanu, the king. When inclination of greed, over-ambition and revenge surface in your life, be careful that it may lead to ‘raavanatva’.
  4. From a Vaishya- Jai and Vijay, the gatekeepers of Bhagwaan Vishnu in Vaikuntth were reborn as Raavan and Kumbhakaran. The inclination of being rude and inconsiderate are the traits of a devil.

There are three points of spiritual energy’s (chetana) movement in the body:
1. Tips of hand fingers 2. Tips of foot fingers 3. Eyes. An aspirant should take care that he does not touch anything unnecessarily. Mala (rosary) is an instrument to conserve this energy in a positive way. An aspirant should be extremely careful of his vision (he should not use his eyes to see negative elements).

Ambition gives birth to activity which leads to either success or failure.

Through success one feels pleasure and failure brings pain and thus both generate attachment (raag) or hatred (dwesh) respectively. Therefore, be careful of over-ambition.

According to Vyas Smriti, one should not give gold to a sanyaasi (a sage), taambool (paan) to a brahmchaari (a person who practices celibacy) and shelter to a thief. This is said in order to encourage the purity of a sage, control of a celibate and discourage stealing.

God is all-inclusively absolute, his grace is also the same and in addition his katha is also totally comprehensive in nature. Though no one has the power to make it the way it is, it is absolute in itself.

Sadaguru’s sankalp (resolution) can change his disciple’s destiny. His eye can put an end to his mind’s delusion; therefore the aspirant should take care that his every activity should be done under the eye of his sadaguru.

Devious personalities existed in every Yuga. In satyuga, they were in the form of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, Bhagwaan Varaah and Narsimha dealt with them respectively. In Treta yuga, there were Raavan and Kumbhakran, Bhagwaan Ram granted them salvation. In Dwaapar yuga, there were Dantvaktra and shishupaal who were taken care of by Bhagwaan Krishna. In Kaliyuga, according to Vinay Patrika, the demons for a human being are delusion and ego. The demons of Kaliyuga can only be treated by Ram katha, like in the case of Sati. Only Ramkatha could free her of these two demons.

Faith is the foundation of every path of spirituality. It may be knowledge (Gyaan), action (Karma) or devotion (Bhakti), in the absence of faith, an aspirant can not be successful.

Censure’s (ninda) place is tongue of a person and jealousy (irshya) resides in his mind. Be careful of both as they keep complementing each other.

Never insult a Saadhu knowingly or unknowingly. Even God cannot forgive such a mistake.

Bapu says, “Shri Ramcharitamanas is my life, I live on it. But still I don’t like certain words used in it, like ‘shraap’, ‘narak’ and ‘laraai’. I can’t describe what this shastra means for me, it is everything for me, but I would like to say very humbly today that I have a right to differ from Tulsidas jee on some points. And I’m sure that he would not mind it and gladly agree with me. We should hold on to our roots but at the same time discover new flowers, as five hundred years have passed since this was written. I feel that there should be no Agni-pariksha (testing through fire) now, Jaanaki jee could pass it, but it is not meant for women of today. Another thing that I cannot stand for is Ma Jaanaki’s second time exile in forest. No one should create misery for a pregnant woman, it is not fair. Another incident is when Ma Sita asks Bhagwaan Ram to get the golden skin of a dear. Inspiration should be taken from this, that women should not compel and force their spouses to fulfil their unreasonable demands”

Tulsidas jee says that Supanakha’s nose (naak, which also means heaven) and ears (shruti, which means vedas) were slashed by Lakshman jee. It means that people (men or women) with malign intentions are deprived of comfort of heaven and knowledge of Vedas.

Hare krishna …hare Krishna…

Let us begin today’s katha with a small story. Once, in a court of a king, a question was asked that there is something that is present now and will remain in future. The other thing is that, which is there now but will not be in future. Another thing is not present now and will take a shape tomorrow and the last thing is not present now and will not be in future also. What/who are all these?

The minister was intelligent and in the answer of first, he brought a wealthy man saying that his wealth is present today and will increase in future as he does charity. In the answer to second, he brought a dancer saying that her beauty and money is present today but may not be the same in future. In the answer to third, he brought a saadhu saying that his power may not be recognized today, but he would surely be acclaimed in future. In the answer to fourth, he brought a thief and said that he neither has anything now nor will he have anything in future if he continues like this. Raavan’s personality was composed of all the above four features.

Raavan wanted to welcome some people in Lanka. He brought Jaanaki jee and welcomed her with full family in Ashok Vatika. He even offered her the services Mandodari and other queens.

He wanted Hanuman jee (who is his guru in the form of Shankar) to visit him, though his devotion was tightly hidden. He wanted his guru to check if he was upto the mark. He welcomed Hanuman jee in his palace court publicly.

Raavan also wanted Bhagwaan Ram to come to Lanka and when he got the news that Bhagwaan Ram was on Subel (mountain of Lanka), he organized a musical show which could be seen from there. He was in high spirits just like that of a samaadhi, as all the people whom he wanted had come to Lanka. But at that time Bhagwaan Ram hit an arrow, as he wanted Raavan to continue his leela (play). (‘Keenha maha rasa bhang’ here maha rasa refers to samaadhi.)

Bapu quotes Poet Majboor, “minimum should be taken and maximum should be given.” Explaining love of divine nature he says, “I like you. I need you but I can’t do without you.” Loving the supreme is not a part-time job; it has no retirement period. Limit of one life does not get attached to it, it is infinite. Love cannot be related to any kind of law.

Do not get attached to a speaker, adopt his statements.

A saadhu is never close to anybody and he never keeps anyone far from himself. If you see some kind of variation in his behaviour with people, it may be the fault of your eye.

Some shaayari was given to Bapu, he sang them and with pleasure saying that this is also a bhajan to appease Raavan. Some excerpts from shaayari are given below.

Neend pichhali sadi ki jhakhmi hai, khwaab agali sadi key dekhate hain.
Dhoop itani karaahati kyon hai, laa chhanv sey jhakhm see key dekhatey hain.
Baarishon sey to pyaas bujhati nahin, aaiye jhahar peekar dekhatey hain.

Ek pal ek sadi mein jeetey ho, zindagi se bahut lagaav hai kya.
zindagi mujhako kyon nahin milati, raastey mein bahut ghumaav hai kya.

Ungaliyaan yun na sab par uttaahaya karo, kharch karne se pehle kuchh kamaaya karo.

Doston se mulaakat ke naam par, neem ki pattiyaan chabaaya karo.
Chaand sooraj kahaan apni manjhil kahaan, aisey vaison ko muh mat lagaaya karo.

Zindagi kya hai kisisey ye mat poochho, baarishon mein patang udaaya karo.

Once a guru asked his disciple that which five events have inspired him the most. The disciple replied that the five events were:

Once a guru asked his disciple that which five events have inspired him the most. The disciple replied that the five events were:

Dhan terass – He explained that it symbolizes that the wealth should be like a liquid, it should flow and reach all.
Kaali chaudas – A day to remember the great masters of the past and the present. It should not be a day of doing malign experiments of tantra.
Diwali – A festival of lighting lamps in the darkest atmosphere.
Anna koot – a day to distribute the goodness and the positive energy of your saadhana.
Bhai dooj – a day signifying inter-personal cordial relations.

In Raavan’s life particular events were seen. Dashehra’s day was the day of his salvation. When he came to this earth, it was his Dhan teras. He did special saadhana on Kaali chaudas. In Diwali, Brahma jee and Bhagwaan Shankar granted him boons. When Lanka became full of wealth, it was his Anna koot. There was a special Bhai dooj for him, as on that day Supanakha came and awakened him by informing the presence of Bhagwaan Ram in panchavati.

Bapu says, “I liked a thought of a thinker. It was ‘ give me a thought, I’ll give you action. Give me an action, I’ll give you a habit. Give me a habit, I’ll give you character’. I like the positive journey towards betterment of life described in this.”

Question – sometimes it is experienced that a person’s faith towards the sadaguru increases than that towards the parents, is it a right way?
Bapu’s answer – yes, it is a process according to the Upanishads that says, “Matru devo bhav, pitru devo bhav, atithi devo bhav, acharya devo bhav.” But one has to be careful and should not get carried away; he/she should give due respect to parents.

If you want prestige then display your love for supreme, but if you want the Lord then hide it as much as possible. Love is not for exhibition; if seen truly it can last till the point of ultimate hurt (barbaad), loss of prestige (badnaam) and sacrifice (balidaan). True love never breeds in the shadow of selfishness, forcefulness and compulsion.

God is full of mystery, but there are some ways to get to know him:

  1. By being a child and surrendering totally in his feet.
  2. By becoming his friend, like Arjun was to Shri Krishna and Vibheeshan to Bhagwaan Ram.
  3. By devoting oneself entirely and accepting Him as the ultimate, like a wife for a husband.
  4. By developing a feeling of belongingness, like that of his own baby.

But Raavan chose a distinct way of becoming his enemy and getting to know the minutest detail of His every movement.

There is a difference between ‘deen’ (very humble and poor) and ‘dukhi’ (sad). A ‘deen’ person is the one who does not have any refuge in his life. He does not have a sadaguru, a mantra or anyone to guide him. A ‘dukhi’ person is the one who is deprived of material goods, he does not have even the basic necessities of life.

Bapu says :
“A committed faith in ‘Ram naam’ can make a person’s Gyaan (knowledge), Karma (action) and Bhakti (devotion) truly successful.

I would like to encourage youngsters never to give up mala. People might say various things in a taunting way but stick to Harinaam. Japa is filling oneself with God’s name and kirtan is sharing it with others.”

Once two bullock carts were going to a same destination. One was loaded with scented items and the other with foul-smelling things. On the way, the owner stopped to rest and gave fodder to the bullocks in spite of the fact they were carrying contrasting things on their carts. No difference was made for the bullocks.

Similarly, Ram is the personification of all the auspicious things and Raavan carries some inauspicious things with him, but the basic element is same in them. According to shri Ram Charit Manas, “Eeswar ans jeev abinaasi | Chetan amal sahaj sukh raasi ||”, it means that the qualities of paramaatma and jeevaatma are similar but Raavan is similar to paramaatma in his appearance also (with many hands, heads, eyes etc.).

Bhagwaan Ram and Raavan worship the same deity ie. Bhagwaan Shankar, but Ram jee worships his Bhadra (decorous) form of Vishwaas (faith) and Raavan worships his Rudra (aggressive) form of ego (ahankaar).

In the path of sharanaagati and prem (surrender and love), there is no complaint from the devotee. The best example of this can be seen in the character of Paarvati jee. When Sapta-rishi came to test her dedication, they criticized her guru (Naarad), herself, her saadhana and even her beloved Bhagwaan Shiv. In spite of all this, she did not lose her faith and devotion and neither did she complain to anyone.

When there is no demand and no crisis in your life and at that time you remember God and your eyes are filled with tears, it means that your eyes are chanting His name. This is a japa of eyes.

Once Vasisht jee went to Bhushundi sarovar and asked Kaag Bhushundi jee some questions.

What is the secret behind your long life?
Bhushundi jee’s answer – In every action of mine, I don’t feel the consciousness of my body (dehabhimaan).

How do you remain free from diseases?

Bhushundi jee’s answer – I look at the world with a healthy and humble viewpoint.

The more closer you move towards the God, the more you are tested. Don’t lose patience in the testing times, it’s a step forward in the spiritual journey.

A person is a bachelor before his wedding, but the moment he accepts a life-partner, he becomes married, but due to this, his basic appearance, nature and habits do not change. Likewise, a human being goes through various stages of life, but he/she should be careful that he does not lose Harinaam, which should be a basic feature of his personality.

There are some indication of ‘Ram janma’ (realization of soul) in an aspirant as follows:

  • One feels either absolutely complete or totally empty.
  • One is able to balance himself/herself in the situations of pain and pleasure.
  • One’s energy is used for the welfare of all.
  • One’s heart is filled with positive qualities and they are showered around for all.

As a result of curse to King Prataap Bhaanu, he along with the people of his state had taken birth as demons. He was reincarnated as Raavan but he made a resolution that he would do efforts for the salvation of his people. Finally he was successful, as the people of his state found their way to salvation through Bhagwaan Ram’s visit to Lanka. It was a ‘Niravana yagna’ of Raavan.

In the regular routines of life, find time and opportunity to carry different types of yagnas in your own way. A person who is on the path of knowledge (gyaan) can carry out ‘Niravana yagna’ for people (like that of Raavan). If a person is on the path of devotion (bhakti), his life should be adorned with ‘Prem Yagna’. For a person of action (karma), the best yagna is prescribed in Bhagwad Gita as ‘ Yogah karmasu kaushalam’ or perfection on every action.

Question – we have faith in scriptures and in katha, but how do we actually feel the impact of all this in our lives?
Bapu’s Answer – the impact can be felt if four things are done:

  1. Have firm faith – it is the basic necessity of every path of spirituality. But one has to be careful that it is not blind faith that he is following; your intellect should be convinced by the subject of your faith.
  2. Saadhana – there should be some kinds of efforts from an aspirant’s side; it may be chanting holy name of God, charity, yagna etc. Some people take for granted that they need not do any efforts if they are surrendered in the feet of a sadaguru. But in such a case, they should do efforts for others if not for themselves. If a person does not feel the need to do any efforts, then he should be able to accept every decision of his sadaguru in the precise way with willingness, with absolute commitment, with no doubt at all.Do not be under the impression that there would be no troubles in life, if you are doing adequate efforts faithfully. The Lord might test you with each trouble, but you should continue with sincerity.
  3. Self-experience – if the above two steps are followed rightly, then one experiences the divinity of shastras. A person’s behaviour becomes modest, he becomes free of arguments, and he also becomes lonesome.
  4. Samaadhaan (answer to all the queries about life)- if a person is careful (saavadhan), he gets answers (samaadhaan) to all his doubts.

The strength of Vairaagya (dispassion) surpasses the mental (knowledge) and physical strength.

Anger and argument is extremely hazardous, as one cannot understand the matter in the exact way. Be careful of both.

“Ram naam” is an all-round caretaker. It takes care of the four aspects of a person’s life:

  1. Dharma – the action of chanting the holy name is a religious activity in itself.
  2. Arth – it provides material wealth in accordance to what one deserves. But actually, it provides the real meaning (arth) of life.
  3. Kaam – it fulfils the necessities of a person.
  4. Moksha – Salvation becomes easily accessible.

In Bapu’s words, ‘I have experienced the above four in my life. Only due to Ram naam, all my resolutions materialize in perfect manner as desired.’

On the final day of Ram Katha, Bapu reversed the order. He began with the narration of Manas and ended with the analysis of Chālisā. During the course of this narration, Bapu pointed out certain basic principles. As he said, Bharata was offered the kingdom, he said that the kingdom did not belong to an individual, but to a dynasty; to a tradition.

Secondly, the coronation of Rama, or the coronation of any good principle, is possible only in a village and only Kevat can be the first citizen. Bapu referred to several sabhas and compared it to the sabhas that are taking place in the politics of today.

The most important point that Bapu raised, was about Draupadi in the midst of Kauravas. He said that so long as Draupadi appealed to her husbands, nothing happened. But only when she appealed to the final Divinity, was she rescued. So we should never try to seek the support from any worldly persons.

One more point that Bapu made was that the ultimate result of love is renunciation; the act of giving up. He referred to Rama Gita which consists of five questions asked by Lakshman and answered by Rama.

He made a very important statement, that Rama considers himself the son of three parents. Dashratha, of course is the physical presence. Jatayu is his father because he supported him. And Rama considers Agni as his own father.

Another point made was that Lankakand was not the burning of Lanka, but Hanumana’s effort to rouse the conscience of all the people of Lanka by faith, symbolic of his tail.